Yesterday, the Irish left South Bend to take over Manhattan. Tomorrow, Notre Dame will take on Army in Yankee Stadium — this year’s neutral territory.
Mike Seamon, head of Game Day Operations, said this year’s eighth home game at an away location was revealed at last year’s neutral territory game in San Antonio, Texas with certain goals in mind.
“This weekend’s events were built around five main pillars,” Seamon said. “Academics, faith, service, athletics and the celebration of the Notre Dame family.”
In order to support these goals, Notre Dame sent the Marching Band, leprechaun and cheerleaders to New York to accompany the football team.
Senior Glynnis Garry, drum major of the Notre Dame Marching Band, said the Band left Thursday morning, stopped at Strongsville High School in Ohio for a rehearsal and then stayed in Glenn Point, New Jersey for the night.
However this year’s leprechaun, senior David Zimmer, beat the Band and football team to New York.
“I’m actually flying out early because I’m going to be on Live with Regis and Kelly on Friday morning,” Zimmer said. “Then I’ll be hanging out with the band for most of the rest of Friday.”
Today, band members have the day to themselves to explore Manhattan.
“I’ve never been to New York City before. I’ve heard the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty take too much time,” Garry said. “So I might just wander around the city.”
Some might take a break around 3 p.m. to watch Bob Bernhard, vice president for Research, close the bell at NASDAQ Stock Market. Though there were initially rumors that the leprechaun would be closing the bell, Zimmer and the cheerleaders will only be present as Notre Dame representatives, Seamon said.
The Band will then gather at 5:30 p.m. for the Pep Rally outside at Lincoln Center. Seamon said the Pep Rally will also feature Coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame alumni and former player Justin Tuck — currently with the New York Giants, — representatives from the Yankees, Notre Dame Football Radio voice Don Criqui and other special guests.
Zimmer said he has mostly been looking forward to interacting with fans.
“It’s definitely a big thing. I talked to last year’s leprechaun, Dan Collins, about what it means to be a true Irish fan and about subway alumni,” he said. “They originated in New York and there’s a lot of history out there, which is really neat to be a part of.”
Game day will begin with a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where University President Fr. John Jenkins will be the main celebrant, Seamon said.
At noon, the band will perform in Times Square, followed by a tailgate at the New York Sheraton Hotel. Garry said the concert will run 45 minutes, an extended version of the normal performance on campus.
“We’re then going to Yankee Stadium on subway cars from Times Square that they’ve blocked off for the whole band,” Garry said. “Then we’ll quickly practice with the West Point Glee Club for our halftime show.”
At 7 p.m., the game begins.
Zimmer said this game is very special, especially after the big win against Utah.
“We have so much momentum behind us. With such a big opportunity on the lines, Notre Dame’s going to be playing hard,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere, playing it up and getting everyone pumped up for the game.”
Student body president Catherine Soler said while Army is bringing many cadets, Notre Dame will have a good representation in the stands.
“The online ticket lottery sold all 600 tickets right away. We actually ended up getting some more tickets since there was such a high demand,” she said.
Soler said the student unions had to really work to gain the right-center field section in Yankee Stadium for Notre Dame students.
“The University has a policy that students don’t get tickets to away games with distances that might be considered unsafe to drive. So we really had to push for this,” she said. “Bottom line: This is a unique and special opportunity.”
After the game, Garry said the band will perform at McColm’s Park for anyone who couldn’t go to the game. She said these trips are an opportunity to inspire people, especially in young audiences.
“We hope to bring kids to Notre Dame so they can see how great of opportunities Notre Dame music in particular can bring,” Garry said.
She said it has been an honor to be part of a group of such incredible people.
“It really has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. To share this experience is so different and exciting,” Garry said. “We’re very lucky.”
Soler agreed, saying neutral territory games truly demonstrate the Notre Dame spirit.
“It’s a really positive experience for everyone to see that camaraderie in a totally different city,” she said. “There, we can see Notre Dame has a strong effect over the entire country.
“We visit so many landmark places and represent who we are.”
The neutral-territory tradition will continue next year at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., Seamon said.